Tag Archives: prayer

A quick question for pastors and ministers

Reflecting on the past few years, I’m stunned at the lack of basic character in your profession.

If you scream from your pulpits about the sins of the world and unorthodox beliefs in other churches, when will you scream from your pulpits about the sins of Mark Driscoll, C.J. Mahaney, Bill Gothard, Bob Jones University, Anglicans in the U.S. supporting the jailing of gays in Africa, the startlingly non-biblical beliefs (before their son’s troubles) of the Duggars, Doug Phillips, and the Roman Catholic pedophile priests?

I know, you can’t because you’ve been too busy picking on Rob Bell about universalism — you know, universalism, an idea, a belief, a way of thinking that does not bully or degrade or sexually assault anyone.

You’re too busy critiquing liberal theology in the mainline Protestant denominations — much easier, granted, than addressing the real problems in your own conservative houses.

Or it’s simpler than that. You’ve been friends with the conservatives. You’ve been enemies of the liberals. Defend your friends and kick your enemies. Like Jesus said, you’re just like everyone else. You’re like this guy.

You frauds.

Your Bible says, “Moreover, [the Christian leader] must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”

That’s I Timothy 3:7.

You’ve failed that standard.

You are not well thought of by outsiders or insiders.

You are a disgrace.

‘Dear Lord, help me become a minister and a psychiatrist…’

“…so I can always fall back on my prescription pad.”

A meditation on prayer

Deborah Reed, Pushcart Prize nominee, writing in LiturgicalCredo:

Prayer, although an extremely complex concept, can be defined in a few simple words. Prayer is talking to God. Now, talking is something we do all the time. We use our vocal cords to make sounds that other people receive in their ears and then interpret with their brains. The difference between “praying” and this other type of talking is that the other person has ears, has a brain; we can see them (or hear them if we are on the phone) while we are talking. We get concrete feedback from them; they answer our questions with talking of their own.

But none of these things are true when we talk to God using prayer. We don’t see Him, we don’t get concrete feedback, we don’t even know if He is listening or not. So this talking to God is much more difficult to understand than the talking we do to other people.

Talking to God becomes even more complicated when done silently. We can’t even talk to other humans this way. Our thoughts stay inside our heads; they don’t go anywhere. They aren’t translated into sound waves that others can pick up. So how can this type of prayer even exist? How can our thoughts get to God when they can’t even get to the person in the same room with us?

Read the full essay.

A stranger’s prayer at the altar rail

I spent Saturday afternoon agonizing about something that I’ll call an unseen idol. It was something I valued, but something unhealthy that I knew I needed to get out of my heart and mind. I prayed about it and thought about it and tried to write down the core of the matter.

On Sunday morning, my church was completing a three day event that led up to a renewal of baptismal vows. The event involved a team of fellow Episcopalians from outside the parish. We were invited to come to the front for prayer, and ministers from our church and the team, in groups of two or three, prayed for everyone in the long line.

When I came up, two strangers from the team, apparently a husband and wife, prayed for me, and every word the man said was directly related to my thoughts, prayers, and writings from the previous day. Nothing in the prayers left me feeling chastised. I felt an assurance that God heard my prayers and was helping me. I was encouraged. I told the man who had prayed for me that his words had come from some of my own prayers.

I trust that God expects us, as fallen beings, to fail and to have failings. It has taken me some time to realize that the only real trick is asking Him for help, and to expect great things not from ourselves, but from Him.

-Colin Foote Burch

Review of ‘Praying with Beads’

We’ve published a review of Praying with Beads: Daily Prayers for the Christian Calendar (Eerdmans) by Nan Lewis Doerr and Virginia Stem Owens.

Read the review at http://www.liturgicalcredo.com/BookReviewPrayingWithBeads.html . If you’re interested in purchasing the book, please use the link that appears beside the review.

Don’t forget to check out the three new poems by Phil Bauman at http://www.liturgicalcredo.com/PhilBaumanPoems.html .

New books: What Martin Luther thought about prayer beads

I’m reading Praying with Beads: Daily Prayers for the Christian Year by Nan Lewis Doerr and Virginia Stem Owens. It’s a great little book with Owens’ outstanding introductory essay, in which something about Martin Luther caught my attention:

Though the rosary was widely used by the late Middle Ages, it was not officially sanctioned by the pope until 1520.

During the Reformation, Luther did not abandon the rosary, though he shortened the Ave Maria to this form: “Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou and the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” In this way he eliminated the plea for Mary to pray for the supplicant. He advised his followers to use the rosary as an aid to meditation.

The more iconoclastic Reformers, including Calvin, forbade the use of prayer beads altogether. They concentrated their attention on scriptural texts and devotional printed matter….Thus prayer beads, along with other sensory aids to devotion like religious statuary, paintings, and stained-glass windows, were condemned as “popish.”

In the Church of England, however, the rosary survived, though its practice faded over the next few centuries. England’s Catholic minority continued to support the practice, and some Anglicans today still pray the rosary instead of or in addition to Anglican prayer beads.

For more information on the book, see Praying With Beads: Daily Prayers for the Christian Year.

I reviewed the book at http://www.liturgicalcredo.com/BookReviewPrayingWithBeads.html

-Colin Foote Burch

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